Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Jan 5, 2012.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
I am a big supporter of Nuclear energy, It has always befuddled me why so many in the United States seem to fear it so.The more powerful a source of energy is the more dangerious it will be wen it is out of control. But with proper safty systems, it is beneficial.
We won't. Latest poll, published last week, is saying that a whooping 91 percent of the German population support the nuclear phase-out. More than 50 percent even voted in favor of abandoning nuclear power right away. These are higher support figures than in polls right after Fukushima. And that poll wasn't commissioned by Greenpeace, but by Vattenfall.
For some reason, outside Germany and especially in the US there seems to be a widespread notion that the nuclear phase-out decision was some sort of short-circuit decision Merkel made after Fukushima. Well, it wasn't. The nuclear phase-out by 2020 was decided in 2001 by Chancellor Schroeder's administration. There has been a phase-out plan in place since then, which has been followed and we actually were ahead of it. It was only in fall 2010 when Merkel decided to put that plan to rest. That decision was made against advice of her own environmental minister, against the advice of the environmental advisory council to the German government, against the advice of a league of independent research institutions, and against the opposition of about 70 percent of the German people, according to polls.
After Fukushima she reconsidered, due to imminent state elections (which her party lost anyways).
So, no short circuit decisions here. The phase-out started ten years ago, it used to be and is right on track. The disruption in German energy politics wasn't the phase-out decision, it was the break between fall 2010 and spring 2011 when Merkel temporarily put the plan to rest.
Popular or not, it will likely turn out to be a terrible policy error.
Why would it? Because the nuclear power suppliers are saying so? I trust the judgement of our research institutions over nuclear utilities. According to preliminary figures and contrary to horror scenarios painted by the utilities, Germany was still a net exporter of electricity in 2011, and so far, during this winter no lights went out in Germany.
The plans have been on the table for 10 years, we're actually years ahead in terms of building up renewable energy. There's no reason to panic.Research institutions unanimously say it can be done.
At least Germany is engaged in strategic planning on energy. You seem to have a better approach than Great Britain in any case.
If you are interested, some of the latest editions and reports on the nuclear phase-out/renewable energy act are available in English:
The issue is simply that our "newest" reactors were built in 1984. Some of them aren't even guarded against clashes with a sports plane. None of them is guarded against clashes with a passenger plane. So if someone decided to try a 09/11 against a German nuclear plant, we're screwed. Upgrading the security standards isn't possible for all plants and even for those that can be upgraded, the costs would be prohibitive. Given the age of the reactors, the only alternative would be to build new ones. Well, the EPR construction experiences in Finland and France aren't exactly encouraging.
Besides, we have no solution for the nuclear waste storage problem. We have no final waste deposit and the "interim" deposit at Asse is a complete disaster. The salt dome is leaking, the walls are crumbling, no one has a clue how to recover the waste; if it's even possible, it'll cost several billions.
According to some studies I've seen, by now we've paid a total bn 300? in terms of subsidies for nuclear power. This doesn't even include costs for the waste disposal problem or risk premiums. People have had enough of throwing taxpayers money at the nuclear industry. Better to invest in renewable energy technologies and building insulation.
There's no problem with the installed power plant capacity, we've more than enough. After all, there's no reason why we must continue exporting electricity like crazy. The main problem right now is how to get wind energy produced in Northern Germany to Southern Germany. Right now we have to turn off wind turbines in Northern Germany because they generate more electricity than is used in Northern Germany or can be exported to the Northern countries, while at the same time in the South we have to import electricity. The total capacity installed is more than enough, but we do have a problem with the grids. The grids from North to South can't handle it.
I'm very interested! I need some light reading for my son's swim meet this weekend.
LOL! Not sure if it qualifies as light reading, but since it's some 450 pages, at least it should keep you busy
Hysterical. What with the freezing cold in Europe, France, despite having 58 nuclear plants working at top capacity, now finds itself forced to import electricity from Germany. Neither the grids nor the plant capacity are sufficient. Meanwhile, reportedly solar panels at peak times are producing electricity equaling the output of 10 nuclear plants in Germany.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find an English report.
This is just hilarious. Half a year ago the French government warned us that we shouldn't expect French nuclear plants to make up for power supply gaps because of the nuclear phase-out in Germany. Now we see them importing solar power from Germany.
Our first new reactors since 1978 have been approved:
[link=http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/23/10478370-the-10-states-that-run-on-nuclear-power]The 10 states that run on nuclear power[/link]
A nice overview of nuclear power in the U.S.
The variation in per capita energy cost from state to state is fascinating.
Illinois is ranked 9th on the list.
About one tenth of the total nuclear-powered electricity generation in the United States comes from Illinois.
The right won't switch to nuclear power so long as existing power solutions are still working. It's a form of short-term pragmatism. The left won't because in this, the left is crazy. A conversation last night with my brother's girlfriend drove home that point to me - they want "alternate clean energy," no matter how impractical. As she put it, "Why don't we just stop funding the tar sands and just put that money into research for alternate power?" I was nearly speechless at how many things were wrong with that statement.
Her expectation is that if we research alternate energy, we can quickly and easily make it practical and clean. That she also apparently fails to realize that crude oil is now Canada's #1 export, that we're making money off of it, that to stop would not free up money but rather to bring Canada less money overall. Significantly less. If alternate energy was cheap and easy, we'd have it already.
Same thing w/natural gas in the US.
It needs to be done in a way that is environmentally safe, but there are trillions of dollars worth of fuel underground in the United States.
Well, oil companies have been rumoured to be suppressing anything that seriously threatens their market dominance and profit. Maybe we do have a cheap and easy alternative but it's been buried somewhere until the oil runs out.
But any alternatives would have to be more efficient than what we have. Getting power from alternate non-polluting sources is easy, there are plenty of options. But generating electricity without fossil fuels is not our biggest challenge, it's cars. Oil is a great & efficient fuel source and we haven't yet been able to get cars to run on something that works as well as petrol without the damaging gasses. Electric cars are often heavy with limited range, plus the batteries often only have a lifespan of a few years and then are very expensive to replace. We need to seriously invest in something to power cars as well as petrol does, then we will truely be on the road to no longer relying on polluting finite energy sources.
Fusion power will come, eventually. Maybe not in my lifetime, but we will get there. Until then I say use fission in partnership with the various forms of renewable energy (fission mainly taking over when the weather means wind and solar can't function well).
Personally I don't see why hydro-electric power is not being invested in more, it's far more efficient than solar or wind power. Plus nations like Britain or Australia which are islands should benefit greatly from it since they are surrounded by water.
Hydroelectric power from dams and reservoirs on major rivers was low-hanging fruit compared to ocean energy. That's why it was built out early. The engineering challenges of converting tidal or wave power from saltwater are much more daunting.
And look at the article I linked to above. The state of Illinois gets nearly half its electricity from six nuclear power plants. If it were a coastal state, imagine the hundreds of tidal plants and thousands of offshore windmills Illinois would have to construct to equal the output of six nuclear power plants. And the useful operating life of a typical nuclear power plant is likely decades longer than that of a windmill or ocean-based hydro-electric plant.
It's a major fundamental problem of alternative energy: the problem of comparable scale. It's incredibly challenging to scale up wind and solar and tidal/wave to the level of a single nuclear or coal-fired plant. That and the intermittency problem.
The advantage of hydro-electric power though is constant supply, something wind & solar don't have which is why they are used alongside other things.
There are many permanent currents under the water (like the Gulf Stream), as well as constant wave movement which means constant electricity generation as opposed to a wind turbine which turns only when there is wind and won't turn so much in winter when power is most needed due to high pressure.
Scotland is investing [link=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-17061075]a lot of money[/link] into hydro-electricity, and has already had [link=http://www.theengineer.co.uk/sectors/energy-and-environment/news/prototype-tidal-turbine-delivers-100mwh-to-scottish-grid/1010712.article]decent results[/link] from it.
Canada has some [link=http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/hydro-power-without-the-dams-ontario-invests-in-free-flow-underwater-turbines.html]good ideas for it too[/link]. My main concern is stopping the blades from chopping up the marine life.
Alternatively, I like [link=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-16939564]this proposed idea[/link] to convert sunlight into fuel that can be stored. That or the plan to cover the surface of the Moon in solar panels whch would generate enough electricity to power the whole world. $500billion sounds like a lot, but I think the G20 could put that together.
500 billion over how many years? I'm assuming that's not an all-at-once expenditure.
The engineering challenges (e.g. corrosion in salt water) are daunting, but maybe not insurmountable. Even if the technical challenges are overcome, it tends to drive up the unit cost of electricity production to uneconomic levels. As energy prices rise, of course, that calculation changes.
Following is a link to one of the more interesting articles on gasoline demand I've read in ages:
Crude Math: What Is Really Impacting Gasoline Demand[/link]
It argues that the aging U.S. population will lead to further decreases in gas demand. It doesn't really pay any attention to the short term effects of recession and high unemployment and the middle-term effects of transitioning to a more fuel-efficient national vehicle fleet, and it's pretty dismissive about the effects of higher pump prices. But it's easy to believe that old people drive less than younger people, and that the aggregate effect of the aging U.S. population will have a considerable impact on energy demand.
It also suggests that American energy demand has less influence on global energy prices. It is outside factors that continue to drive gas prices higher despite flagging domestic consumption.
I can't resist picking on the stupidity of Fox News.
[link=http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/02/29/thanks-to-mr-obama-america-is-running-on-empty-promises/]Thanks to Mr. Obama, America is running on empty[/link]
As a candidate, Barack Obama declared that now was the time to end our dependence on foreign oil. But as president, he decided that major task could wait.
And today, gas prices are skyrocketing. Americans have seen price spikes before, but this is different. It?s February?months from the summer driving season. We?ve never seen price spikes this early in the year.
This seems to betray not just a near-total ignorance of the petroleum industry, but also a worrisome amnesia, forgetting as it does that, just this time last year, gas prices were skyrocketing by an [link=http://gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx]even higher percentage[/link]. It is in fact extremely common at least since I've been watching for gas prices to increase from the early part of the year through Memorial Day (I don't know if this is a complete explanation, but this is the time of year when refineries switch over to a summer gasoline blend with a much lower butane content, and I believe it typically causes some short-term supply bottlenecks to retailers).
Every year, though, the media really starts hyping gas prices by April and May and then, to everyone's surprise, prices start falling in June and July. It happened in 2011. It happened in 2010. It happened in 2009.
It's true that we're looking at higher average gas prices for the year overall, but that's a different issue than the moronic
Americans have seen price spikes before, but this is different. It?s February?months from the summer driving season. We?ve NEVER seen price spikes this early in the year!!!
at the United States current consumption of resources what was it said?
if the entire planet lived at the level of the United States it would take 5 Earths to suppot it.
As most of the Planet catches up to our standards of living, there are simply less resources to go around, and compounded by the fact that the overpopulation is a problem.
Its nothing like any American has ever seen is because its 2012, not 1985 where most people seem to me stuck (World view wise).
This is a great story about retrofitting the Empire State Building to be more energy-efficient:
[link=http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/03/a-green-empire]A Green Empire[/link]
How Anthony Malkin ?84 engineered the largest ?green? retrofit ever
In the course of 12 months, of the nearly 70 energy-saving measures considered, just eight were chosen. Among those, ?the biggest energy-savings contribution is 9 percent, the smallest is 2 percent, and the other six are between 6 percent and 3 percent of the total benefit,? reports Malkin. But these small numbers add up to one big number: a total anticipated reduction in energy use of 38.4 percent
Bumping this up after reading the following article [link=[url]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/fuel/9619269/British-engineers-produce-amazing-petrol-from-air-technology.html]here[/link][/url].
What does everybody think? If this is real, and it could be coupled with a clean energy catalyst, say, wind or solar to drive the initial stages, it could be a huge game-changer. Hydrocarbons for cars, while lowering atmospheric CO2.
Sounds too good to be true...